I Can't Believe I Did This
Friday, January 26, 2007

Or, good party fun on a budget.

We're not having any fun this Friday... well, I'm having fun but it probably won't amuse you!

I am participating in AntiProcastination Day, graciously hosted by Mrs. Wilt of The Sparrow's Nest.
****UPDATED TO ADD **** It also qualifies as a Frugal Friday for BiblicalWomanhood! Woo-hoo, a Mr. Linky two-fer!

Of course, I put off getting started, so the "day" runs from noon Thursday to noon today!

What project, much procrastinated, did I take on?

Getting ready for Miss E's sixth birthday party. Which is Saturday. Like, tomorrow. Yes, if I were to join the Procrastination Olympics, I'd take the bronze! (I could've had a gold, if I had gotten around to training for it...)

I vaguely planned on getting ready Friday night, leaching into Saturday morning. But, Mr P was home sick from school, which always messes up my schedule (I don't know why... he pretty much just lays on the couch!), so I thought I'd tackle some party prep.

My children don't get a big party every year, so this is a big deal. It's actually the first real birthday party she has had.

I had already bought most of the materials I needed, and planned the games. I had carefully stored them hidden them at midnight on a moonless night, craftily using my sewing machine box, so the candy was pretty much intact. I practiced the craft we are doing (making lace fans, decorated with ribbons, flowers, and butterfly stickers), made a model to show the girls, made the goodie bags (yeah, they're white lunch bags. I'm cheap.), and filled them. I also decorated the cake.

I wrote down the Grand Plan, and some games, including a couple of ideas for games to play while waiting for parents to pick up their girls or while waiting for other guests to arrive.

Grand Plan
The Cake - Homemade - and finished now!

The Decorations
- the usual suspects- crepe paper, balloons. I have some butterfly wall decals I bought for over the baby's bed, and I'll put those up as well. We'll also use some tea party-ish lady like things I already have, including candles, lace runners, and flowers from the yard.

The Fun
- Victorian lace fan craft, Butterfly in the Web game, Pin the Butterfly on the flower, Butterfly Teacup scoop, and Toss the Butterfly in the Basket. The invitations asked everyone to come in their best tea party clothes, so the games are all of the 'parlor' variety. The Butterfly web game is probably the most active- give each girl a different colored ball of yarn, have them toss them into the middle, and then untangle. I plan this for the very end, because you can play it more than once and if someone has to leave in the middle it's okay.

The Food - the party is at 2 pm. We will have Red Zinger tea, lemonade, and mulled cider. I also plan peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (cut into shapes with a butterfly cookie cutter), Fairy Bread (raisin bread, cream cheese, and colored sugar sprinkles), fruit salad (a can of pineapple chunks, a can of mandarin oranges, and some marachino cherries), cake, and ice cream. Not much food, the cake is the 'big star', but the party is in the middle of the afternoon. If it were at a meal time, I'd plan more (and better) food.

The Party Favors
- I cut down white lunch bags, punched holes in the top, threaded it with ribbon and glued a fake flower to the front. I managed to dig out my mini glue gun, so the flower was pretty easy! The bags contain Tootsie Rolls, Smarties, Jolly Ranchers, butterfly stickers, butterfly shaped erasers, a candy necklace, and a couple of balloons.

The Craft: I got a package of rectangle paper doilies at the dollar store. We will decorate with gel pens, butterfly stickers, and ribbons, then fold accordian style and I will glue a flower on. Here's my prototype, which was another item I'd been procrastinating!

I even made buttercream frosting for the first time earlier this week, and just needed to use it. It turned out well. I hate to even begin to imagine how many calories it contains, as I used 1 cup of Crisco and 2 sticks of butter! I even bought clear vanilla extract and brand name shortening, even though I had generic in my cupboard, so you can see I am really trying! It came out a beautiful white.

I also made a cake from scratch. Although Miss E is having a butterfly teaparty, she really, really wanted a Princess Cake. You know, the ones with the doll and the dress. I bought a decorating kit by Wilton for $6 and promised to try my best. I think it turned out well.

The true challenge of a procrastinator? Last year, we had planned a little tea party for Miss E. We cancelled 3 different times due to sickness in the family. When the baby got RSV, I pretty much gave up and promised her a party for birthay #6. I had found a set of 8 cups and a matching creamer at the thrift store, and I got some coordinating saucers as well.

I finally got around to pulling the price tags off of the tea cups I bought. A year later. After moving them across the country, with the price tags and grease pencil still on them. Thank goodness for GooGone! I also polished up the two silver platters I got at the same time while I was at it.

I'll let you know how it turns out tomorrow!

Whew! I can't believe I got that much done and still managed to make a real dinner (okay, it was pork chops and cornbread. Stick it in the oven, turn it on, and forget about it.)
Husband dear was so kind to take care of loading the dishwasher and he even washed the pans! (usually he lets them sit in nasty cold water for a couple of days soak.

I still have some things to do, though. I'm going to take down our Christmas tree... yes, I know it's been a month since Christmas! I told you, I'm a procrastinator of epic proportions. To be fair, we celebrate the Epiphany and I don't take down the Christmas decorations until 8 days later (the Octave). So I'm actually only about a week and a half behind on that. I refuse to have it up for Miss E's party though!

I also need to make the raisin bread, clear off our side table (that's a major hot spot), and do a general clean up. I'm going to try to tackle the Montessori shelves (since, you know, you can see them from the front door). The "kid" portion looks good - we put it in order everyday - but the Mommy section where I keep my books, binders, plans, and extra supplies is a little messy. Somehow a ton of husband dears tools, valves, fittings, and guitar pieces have been scattered about the top as well. The top of the Montessori shelves are another major hotspot - the kids can't reach up there and I can see them from the living room, kitchen/dining room, and computer for security purposes. I want to get to vacuuming out the couch cushions as well. I may make some cupcakes as well... the tea party is for little girls only, but Miss E's actual birthday is Sunday, so we are having a family celebration then, and I'd like to take it to church.

I'll do most of the heavy cleaning tomorrow - it won't do any good to do it today with the family home all afternoon. Husband dear is taking the children tomorrow so that's when I'll bleach the toilet, mop the hallway, and so on. I've been keeping up pretty well, and clean the bathroom (counters, mirror, wipe down toilet, and sweep) everyday - necessary with 3 small boys using it - so I think the actual cleaning part will be easy! I'm so glad I won't have to do a 6 hour marathon! A HUGE factor to this is assigning the children rooms - they switch weekly. So one child straightens the living room and vacuums everyday, one takes care of the Montessori room, and one is in charge of wiping off the chairs and sweeping the kitchen everyday. They do it right before Daddy gets home and dinner time and it has made a big difference to me - the rooms are tidied every day and it saves on my bending down, which always gives me contractions for some reason.

Here's the breakdown of the party costs for my frugal friends who might be interested.

Cake - I don't know how much it cost. I made it myself. It has butter, eggs, flour, sugar, vanilla... the usual suspects. It's just a basic yellow cake, I estimate maybe .50?
Frosting - 2 sticks of real butter, $1.00 1 c. Crisco (the whole can cost $3, so maybe .10?) 2 lbs. powdered sugar, $1.32. Clear vanilla extract, $2 (only used 2 tsp. though, so I'll generous allot .40)
Cake decorating kit $5.96 (included food coloring); I'll be able to use the tips and coloring for many other projects, but I'll include the whole cost here.
Barbie doll $1
Candles .70
Cake: $10.98 (although, the cake decorating kit is reuseable and accounts for 60% of the cost).

Favor bags for 8 girls, craft, and decorations:
White lunch bags - free. I have had this package for over a year, and only use it for things like this, or making puppets.
Ribbon - bought a huge spool at the dollar store, with 4 different colors. $1 (for all projects, and then some).
Butterfly stickers $2 - put some in favor bags, will use some for craft.
Rectangle paper doilies $1 (to make fans)
4 stems fake flowers, $4
4 pack glitter gel pens $1
Crepe paper $1 for 2 rolls of pink, I have some green leftover from a party long, long ago.
Tablecloth -purple plastic, butterfly happy birthday plates, butterfly napkins $3
Invitations with glitter stickers $2 (No postage, we gave them out at school and church)
Prizes for games - pretty journal with blank pages for drawing, teapot shaped tinket box, porcelain mini tea set, butterfly stamp $2 total.
Foam butterflies for game $1
Butterfly erasers, for favor bags $1
Tea cups, creamer, saucers, $2.50 total (again, reuseable. I've actually been using the creamer for months as part of our Montessori pouring exercises).
Sprinkles for 'fairy bread', blue and yellow $1.50
Candy for favor bags $1.50 (actually, this is from the stash of candy I already have on hand for potty treats and such so I only actually bought the candy necklaces at the dollar store.)
Ice Cream $2.50 (half gallon)
(Most of the food will be made from things I have on hand already and usually stock. I'll be making the breads in the breadmaker)

Total for party: $28.00 plus cake - $39.00 total

Can you see why I love the Dollar store?

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